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People making the outline of a heart.

On Feb. 2 people turned out, en masse and in red, at the University Field House for the U's Wear Red Rally to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

Heart knowledge: more than skin deep?

Awareness is the first step to better heart health in women

By Anne Taylor

From eNews, Feb. 8, 2008

Editor's note: February is American Heart Month. On. Feb 2 University of Minnesota cardiologist Anne Taylor spoke about heart disease prevention in women on the Twin Cities campus. The lecture, "How do you Mend a Broken Heart?" (listen to a recording of it), was sponsored by the Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health and is part of the center's lecture series, "Women and Heart Disease: It's not just for men anymore!"

While women worry more about breast cancer than heart disease, statistics show that 1 in 30 women dies of breast cancer, but 1 in 2.5 women dies of heart disease. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in women. And, while the total number of people dying of heart disease is decreasing, the decline is much greater in men than in women.

Women should know that:

So how can women protect their hearts? Prevention is important. Some risk factors, such as age, menopause, family history and ethnicity are beyond your control. (African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have higher rates of heart disease.) But, no matter what your age or ethnicity, you can affect the following risk factors for heart disease:

To reduce your risk:

U center for women's health

"When women are fully involved, families are healthier," said Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, in 2002. "They are better fed. Income, savings and reinvestment go up. And what is true of families is true of communities, and eventually, of whole countries."

The Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health at the University of Minnesota is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of women throughout their lifespan. The center is one of 19 nationally designated Centers of Excellence, a designation awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September 2003 after a competitive application process.

To learn more, visit the center or call 612-626-1125. For women's health tips, see

In case of a heart attack... The most common symptom in women and men is pain or discomfort in the chest, ranging from a mild ache to feeling a heavy weight on the chest. Some women, however, do not have classic heart attack symptoms. They may instead experience shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, back or jaw pain or extreme fatigue. In women, these symptoms may be misdiagnosed as a panic attack, flu or indigestion. It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms.
Anne Taylor is a University of Minnesota cardiologist and author of The Black Women's Guide to a Healthy Heart.